A fairly common solution presented to men having to make decisions is to just “be a man” about them. Are you sad? Be a man, just stop it and go drink whiskey and punch things until feelings are but a thing of the past. Need to clean up your place? Be a man, sit in your filth and let it accumulate until it gets to Hoarders levels or until someone of a lesser station can come clean it for you. Caught a disease from all that muck and mess? Tough it out until it goes away.
The common problem with these solutions is that they’re pretty much about ignoring things. People will most often tell others to “man up” or to “be a man” about things involving feeling feelings but there are plenty of other areas that have ended up being equated with masculinity with really no basis. At least, whatever basis once existed is now outdated and was probably dumb in the first place anyway.
It is now 2013, and there are plenty of things you no longer need to “be a man” about.
I don’t know when manliness became equated with being a slob, but it has never made sense to me. I was raised to pick up after myself just because it’s kind of d!@#-ish to leave other people to do it for you, and if no one does it at all, a mouse eats your shredded coconut and poops in your pantry.
I was at my parents’ place a couple of weeks ago where everything was clean and windows were open and I didn’t have dust on my feet from walking around barefoot. It was amazing. Their toilets were lily white and I used Charmin. Also, it didn’t smell like sweaty clothes that have been sitting on the floor for a month and farts. My place is not nearly that clean.
Some people deem cleaning to be “a woman’s task,” which is super insulting. I used to have roommates who would call me “mom” for the cleaning I did, which barely touched the chores my parents had me do that kept our place happy and sanitary and seriously smelling freaking amazing.
Here’s the thing: being a man and letting everything get super dirty and fart-smelling are not the same thing. Cleaning up doesn’t magic away your genitals or testosterone, and it helps a whole lot. You’ll feel better for really not even doing that much work.
Going to the doctor
Now we here at the Man Cave don’t want to advocate for hypochondria. If you have a stomachache, you probably don’t need to go to the doctor. But even if you’re feeling fine, better than ever, or like you could fight eighteen bears at once, physicals are a good thing to have done. Also if you feel like you could fight eighteen bears you probably just took a lot of cocaine and you should cut that out.
Preventative care is a fantastic thing, and one that men apparently tend to avoid. We’re brought up believing that we need to be big, strong men who only go to the doctor for help when we can’t even move. You don’t need to go to the doctor for everything. If it looks, walks and quacks like a cold it’s probably a cold and you can just go get some Sudafed, but every now and then you should still go in and just get a physical so you can get things done like screenings for high cholesterol or blood pressure. Even things like diabetes or cancer can be detected early with some non-invasive procedures that won’t take too long.
What is unfortunate is that later on in life we’ll have to get some, ah…totally invasive procedures done for the sake of our health. I won’t say exactly what that involves, but it definitely includes your butt and your doctor’s finger. But the occasional doctor finger in your butt is at least a little better than butt cancer or other prostate issues. To put it bluntly, it’s really hard to continue being men when we’re dead.
This one probably sees the most of the “be a man” non-solution, and it’s the most insulting. The implication is that having or at least displaying your feelings somehow makes you less of a man, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be afflicted with depression, this idea gets thrown at you way more.
Real people have real feelings, and sometimes that means grief or sadness. Telling someone to “be a man” about them and essentially ignore them is very Don Draper, and things don’t exactly work out for that dude. He’s not very happy.
If you’re sad about something, that is very natural and okay. Being a man doesn’t help, you kind of already are one. Unless you who are reading this right now are a woman. Then hello, pretty lady!
The thing is, Don runs from all of his badness. He tries to smother everything he feels bad about with more stimuli, and it only results in making things worse for him. He ruins relationships with his family and friends and just keeps digging the hole for things to get even worse. He tries to “be a man” about them. He goes to work and is really good at it, then he goes and has sex with some hot girl but it never makes him feel any better and usually only makes him feel worse.
His lack of honesty with himself and others is what keeps creating these bad situations for Don and what adds to his downward spiral. Now I’m not suggesting a good cry every now and then would fix him, but the mark of a true man or any human being really is to face and acknowledge your feelings rather than running away from them. If that feeling is a good cry, then turn on the first 10 minutes of Up and let it go.
Patrick is a writer and comedian living in Chicago and isn’t the greatest follower of his own advice, but he wants you and your butts to have long and healthy lives. You can check out his silly doodles at his Tumblr. You can also give him some new followers on Twitter @fatfraud. Or don’t. It’s entirely up to you.
Man Cave Daily has questioned the current norms of what makes a man before, with Steve Stevenson’s Six Things That Make You A Man. We also looked out for your health with Luis Prada’s Why Obesity Is Going to Kill Us All.